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HEALTH

Salad growers to get half their losses in aid

German vegetable growers who have seen their businesses badly hit by the EHEC E.coli outbreak as people avoid cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, have been told they will get half of what they have lost in governmental aid.

Salad growers to get half their losses in aid
Photo: DPA

Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner has promised that Germany’s share of the €210 million being made available for all European farmers affected, would be handed out quickly and simply.

“We do not want to leave the farmers out in the rain,” she told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday. Yet farmers’ representatives said the aid on offer was not enough and called for further specifically German help, a call which Aigner did not answer, the paper said.

The European Union decided on Tuesday to increase the initial €150 million to €210 million after many countries criticised the first figure as too low.

President of the German Central Association of Market Gardening Heinz Herker estimated the losses to domestic market gardeners at around €60 million thus far and said the money on offer would condemn many firms to bankruptcy as they would not be able to make any investments.

The sales situation is starting to normalise, with consumers again buying salad ingredients, but a total daily loss of around €50 million to German agriculture has left many producers afraid for their future.

A final figure for how much European aid will be made available will be confirmed in July after member states confirm how much is to be covered to compensate producers of cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes and sweet peppers withdrawn from the market since May 26.

Spain, France, Poland and Slovakia voted against the package after demanding more help for farmers producing a wider range of fresh vegetables.

Spanish farmers say they have lost €225 million every week since the crisis erupted.

“This is an important signal for fresh vegetable growers because I was very keen to show that Europe can react quickly when it needs to,” said agriculture commissioner Dacian Ciolo.

“I am relieved that the source of the contamination has now been identified,” he said. “I am optimistic that consumption will pick up very quickly.”

Farmers were further hit when Russia imposed a blanket ban on vegetables from the 27-nation EU bloc, a move blasted by EU officials.

Moscow agreed at a summit with the EU on Friday to lift the ban although it was not immediately clear when the announcement would come into effect.

Vegetable sprouts grown at a farm in the northern German village of Bienenbüttel were identified as the cause of the outbreak of the virulent E. coli strain EHEC-0104, which so far has affected 14 countries and killed at least 37 people included the first child, a two-year-old boy who died on Tuesday.

The Local/AFP/hc

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HEALTH

What you should know about Germany’s plans to roll out e-prescriptions

Germany is taking a big step towards a more digital-friendly health system, with plans to roll out e-prescriptions nationwide. Here's what you should know.

A person holds the e-Rezept app in a pharmacy in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony.
A person holds the e-Rezept app in a pharmacy in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

What’s happening?

From January 1st 2022, people in Germany will receive their prescriptions digitally (known in Germany as an ‘e-Rezept’) from healthcare providers.

Patients should be able to get their prescription from their doctor via a QR code sent to an app, which can then be transmitted to a pharmacy. The pharmacy can then let the patient know whether their medicine is in stock (or if they want to order it), and when it is ready for collection. 

This model is to be mandatory for people with statutory health insurance from the start of 2022, replacing the good old paper prescription.

However, the QR code can also be given to the patient by the doctor on a piece of paper if a patient does not have access to or doesn’t want to use a smartphone. 

READ ALSO: The changes around doctors notes in Germany you should know 

How exactly will it work?

In theory this is the plan – you’ll visit the doctor or have a video consultation. After the examination, the doctor will issue you with an electronic prescription for the medication that has been prescribed to you. 

A prescription code is automatically created for each ‘e-Rezept’, which you will need so you can get the medicine at the pharmacy. As we mentioned above, patients in Germany can either open this QR code in the free e-prescription app developed by Gematik and the Health Ministry, or receive it as a printout from the doctor. 

Next, you can take the prescription QR code (either in the app or as a printout) to your pharmacy of choice to get the medication needed.

One of the major differences and timesavers under the new system is that you can also select the pharmacy you want to get the prescription from digitally, order the medication (if needed) and you’ll be alerted when the prescription is ready. You can also arrange to have it delivered if needed. 

A doctor’s signature is not required, as e-prescriptions are digitally signed. 

The aim is that it will save on paperwork, time at the medical office and trips to the pharmacy. 

Some patients have already been receiving digital prescriptions. The ‘e-Rezept’ was tested out successfully in selected practices and pharmacies with a focus on the Berlin-Brandenburg region of Germany. The test phase started on July 1st this year.

Pharmacies and doctors’ offices nationwide have also been given the opportunity to test the new system from the start of December. 

“This will enable practice providers and pharmacy management systems to better prepare for the mandatory launch on January 2022 1st,” said aponet.de, the official health portal site for German pharmacies

The new e-prescription app.
The new e-prescription app. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Mohssen Assanimoghaddam

READ ALSO: 10 rules to know if you get sick in Germany

There is some leeway though – if there are technical difficulties, paper prescriptions can still be issued in individual cases until the end of June next year.

The National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians estimates that it could take until mid-2022 until all users are equipped with e-prescription applications nationwide.

The obligation does not apply to privately insured people from January next year. Private insurance companies can decide voluntarily to make the preparations for their customers to use the e-prescription.

What’s this about an app?

To be able to receive and redeem prescriptions electronically, people with statutory health insurance need the Gematik ‘das e-Rezept’ app. 

One issue is that the app appears to only be available at the moment in German app stores. We’ll try and find out if there are plans to change this and widen out the access, but it seems likely for that to happen. 

Germany’s Covid-Warn app, for example, was initially only open to German app stores but was gradually widened out to many others. 

As mentioned above though, those who don’t have access to an app will be able to use the paper with the code on it to access their prescriptions. 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

Has it all gone smoothly?

As you might expect, there have been a few hiccups. 

Originally, the introduction nationwide was planned for October but was postponed due to many providers not having all the tech requirements set up. 

Now though, more than 90 percent of the practice management systems have been certified by the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians – a prerequisite to issue the e-prescriptions.

The e-prescription is part of Germany’s far-reaching plans to digitise and streamline the health care system.

The head of Gematik GmbH, Markus Leyck Dieken, recently spoke of a “new era” that is “finally starting for doctors and patients” in Germany. 

Useful vocabulary:

Prescription – (das) Rezept

Doctor’s office/practice – (die) Arztpraxis

To order – bestellen 

Pharmacy – (die) Apotheke

Video consultation – (die) Videosprechstunde

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